The trick is in the vodka! Being only 80-proof, most of the vodka evaporates in the baking process, meaning the crust dough gets the liquid it need to be formed, but most of it will not stay, leaving you with a perfect, flaky crust. And, vodka is, by definition, colorless and odorless, so once it's baked, you'll forget it was ever in there.
If you prefer not to use vodka, swap it for cold water.
Originally titled Foolproof Pie Dough, Cooks Illustrated, November 2007
Step 1: Ingredients
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour - make sure you measure it right!
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
- 1/4 cup cold vodka
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Food processor, dough cutter, or fork & knife
Step 2: Mash it up
Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (there should be no uncoated flour).
Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.
Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses.
Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Step 3: Add cold liquids
With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.
Step 4: Wrap it up
Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.